Concern as ambulances fail to hit eight minutes target

Oxford Mail: Cllr Martin Barrett Cllr Martin Barrett

WEST Oxfordshire District Council is alarmed at being “fobbed off” about poor ambulance response times despite years of lobbying for improved services.

Figures show that only one in two ambulances responded to emergency calls within the required target time in the year 2013/14 to date.

The council has called for more ambulances to be based in the mainly rural district amid fears that South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is covering too big an area.

Councillor Martin Barrett said: “The frustration in West Oxfordshire is that we’re being fobbed off and nobody is coming up with a solution.”

More ambulances should be based in the district, said Cllr Barrett, the council’s member on the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

The committee released a report last month showing that in West Oxfordshire only 52.4 per cent of ambulances responded to life-threatening “red” calls within eight minutes in the 2013-14 year so far.

This is well below the target of 75 per cent while Oxfordshire was 74.5 per cent, Cherwell 82.6, Oxford 91.6, South Oxfordshire 52.6 and Vale of White Horse 68 per cent.

In 2009, West Oxfordshire issued a report critical of ambulance services in its area. At that time, 54 per cent of calls were responded to within eight minutes.

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In October the county fleet was increased from 21 to 26 to cope with extra demand.

But bosses say it would need 90 more to get to all urgent cases in eight minutes.

Councillor Mark Booty, the council’s deputy leader, said: “I don’t think the response time has improved a bit.”

Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron shares the concerns. He said: “It is not acceptable that any area, rural or otherwise, suffers a disadvantage and poor service must be rectified.”

David Roulston, director of Health Watch Oxfordshire, said the low response times were “not good enough”.

It raised the question whether SCAS, which covers Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Berkshire, was covering too big an area to provide a localised service, he said.

Cllr Booty disagreed that area coverage was the core issue, saying it was the “amount of resources”.

SCAS Operations Director Steve West said: “We have seen a significant challenge in the rise in demand on our services.

“We are always looking for new ways of working to ensure we get to patients as quickly as possible dependant on their clinical need.

“Community responders and a new co-responder initiative is coming to the area.

“Public access defibrillators have a vital part to play in supporting those with emergencies before we arrive on scene.

“We have launched an iPhone app which plots all the defibrillators in our area.”

Comments (3)

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9:47am Mon 17 Mar 14

medicine man says...

The whole problem with the response time is ,someone in their infinite wisdom decided to close all the county ambulance stations .Some year's ago my son was killed on his motorbike just the other side of Witney .It took the ambulance 1 hour to get to him .Had the station been open in Witney ,it would have taken about 6 minutes.(On this occasion ,it would have made no difference ) .Also all ambulance men stationed at the couny station were local ,thereby knowing all the local roads and names .Sat navs are great ,but the don't know local road names .I have lived in the area for 69 years and I have no idea what some of the road numbers are, only the local names .
The whole problem with the response time is ,someone in their infinite wisdom decided to close all the county ambulance stations .Some year's ago my son was killed on his motorbike just the other side of Witney .It took the ambulance 1 hour to get to him .Had the station been open in Witney ,it would have taken about 6 minutes.(On this occasion ,it would have made no difference ) .Also all ambulance men stationed at the couny station were local ,thereby knowing all the local roads and names .Sat navs are great ,but the don't know local road names .I have lived in the area for 69 years and I have no idea what some of the road numbers are, only the local names . medicine man
  • Score: 0

9:52am Mon 17 Mar 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

How much money has been spent on improving the road network within the region during that period?

Quite simply narrow, twisty country roads with blind bends, "SLOW" markings on the road as well as "my word" speed humps are an impediment to an ambulance, fire engine or police reaching an individual within 8 minutes.
How much money has been spent on improving the road network within the region during that period? Quite simply narrow, twisty country roads with blind bends, "SLOW" markings on the road as well as "my word" speed humps are an impediment to an ambulance, fire engine or police reaching an individual within 8 minutes. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -1

9:27pm Sun 23 Mar 14

level the score says...

the problems began when emergency crews paid for by the health authority were used to cover private contracts (banger racing, polo, equestrian events etc.) Cover deteriorated still further when, against strong protest from some staff, ambulance stations were closed. I paid far too higher price for voicing my concerns over the fraudulent practices & cuts that have led to people dying in West Oxon. The then chief executive should resign, & for good measure answer the matters still outstanding with me.
the problems began when emergency crews paid for by the health authority were used to cover private contracts (banger racing, polo, equestrian events etc.) Cover deteriorated still further when, against strong protest from some staff, ambulance stations were closed. I paid far too higher price for voicing my concerns over the fraudulent practices & cuts that have led to people dying in West Oxon. The then chief executive should resign, & for good measure answer the matters still outstanding with me. level the score
  • Score: 0

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